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Witness to ReconstructionConstance Fenimore Woolson and the Postbellum South, 1873-1894$
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Kathleen Diffley

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9781617030253

Published to University Press of Mississippi: March 2014

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781617030253.001.0001

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The Portrait of a Southern Lady in Woolson’s For the Major

The Portrait of a Southern Lady in Woolson’s For the Major

(p.214) (p.215) The Portrait of a Southern Lady in Woolson’s For the Major
Witness to Reconstruction

Janet Gabler-Hover

University Press of Mississippi

This chapter presents a reading of Woolsen’s For the Major, which explores one of the South’s most potent myths—that of the Southern lady. The novel depicts the Southern Belle archetype in the character Madam Carroll, only to dispel it. Woolson does this not to condemn the Southern lady, but to expose her Northern characters’ narcissistic investment in fantasizing Southern womanhood. Woolson plays with stereotypical aspects of the Southern archetype to suggest that a complex and paradoxical sexual dynamics underwrites the myth of the antebellum Southern woman.

Keywords:   Constance Fenimore Woolson, Southern Belle, Southern womanhood

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